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Integrin- FG-GAP repeat-containing protein 2 is critical for normal B cell differentiation and controls disease development in a lupus model

Al-Shami, A;Crisostomo, J;Wilkins, C;Xu, N;Humphries, J;Chang, WC;Anderson, SJ;Oravecz, T;

The phenylalanyl-glycyl-glycyl-alanyl-prolyl (FG-GAP) domain plays an important role in protein-protein interactions, including interaction of integrins with their ligands. Integrin- FG-GAP repeat-containing protein 2 (Itfg2) is a highly conserved protein in vertebrates that carries two FG-GAP domains, but its role in mammalian physiology is unknown. In this article, we show that Itfg2 is an intracellular protein and it plays a critical role in B cell differentiation and development of autoimmunity. Itfg2-deficient mice displayed a phenotype consistent with retention of B cells in the spleen and had a lower concentration of IgG in the blood when compared with wild-type littermates. Itfg2-deficient splenocytes also showed a defect in cell migration in vitro. After immunization with a thymus-dependent Ag, the absence of Itfg2 caused a shift in B cell maturation from the germinal centers to the extrafollicular regions of the spleen and blocked deposition of Ag-specific plasma cells in the bone marrow. In support of hematopoietic cell intrinsic activity of Itfg2, bone marrow transplantation of Itfg2-deficient cells was sufficient to impair germinal center development in wild-type mice. Furthermore, Itfg2 deficiency exacerbated development of autoimmune disease in MRL/lpr lupus-prone mice. These results identify Itfg2 as a novel contributor to B cell differentiation and a negative regulator of the autoimmune response during lupus.